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Russian Federation Takes Over Maryland Vacation Retreat

January 20, 1992

CENTREVILLE, Md. (AP) _ While turmoil and bloodshed surrounded the breakup of the Soviet Union, a vacation retreat in Maryland became the property of the the Russian Federation.

″It was bought by the former Soviet Union,″ said Ivan Rumyantsev, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington.

There are no plans to sell the 45-acre estate, valued at $3 million, said Rumyantsev. It occupies prime property on the banks of the Corsica River, two miles outside Centreville, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

It was purchased by the Soviet Union in 1972 as a vacation getaway for diplomats and their families.

The fenced compound is the former estate of John J. Raskob, who was the chief aide to Pierre S. du Pont, board chairman and president of the Du Pont Co. in the early 1900s.

Raskob’s brick mansion has been renovated into about 12 apartments. There also are a dozen cottages each with four apartments. The compound can accommodate 40 families, each of whom pay a small fee used for maintenance.

The retreat has four lighted tennis courts, a swimming pool and soccer field. The Russians conduct a camp for diplomats’ children for three months in the summer and two weeks at Christmas.

Not many families visit during the winter, but those who do usually go for fishing and fresh air, Rumyantsev said.

″My family usually goes during the spring and fall when it’s not too hot,″ he said.

Centreville residents were curious, but not overly concerned about whether their Russian neighbors would still be around following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Locals said the diplomats are just regular folks, even if they don’t all speak English or at least appear not to know the language.

″I live down the road from them. We fish and crab with them. There’s usually one that speaks English for the group,″ said Bonnie Delph, who works in the meat department at the Acme supermarket.

When it comes to fixing Maryland steamed crabs, she said, the Russians do it a little differently than the locals, who throw the live crabs in a pot of boiling water.

″They stab them with a screw driver, break the back shell off, clean them and then boil the body,″ she said.

Rumyantsev had nothing bad to say about Centreville.

″They are ordinary Americans. They have work to do and they are quite polite,″ he said. ″And the city is an example of a small American town with a Main Street. It’s a good example of how people live, not like a New York or a Chicago.″